David G. Yearsley F'11

David G. Yearsley
Professor
Music
Cornell University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2011
Professor
Music
Cornell University
Anna Magdalena Bach and the Musical Lives of a Lutheran Woman

This study investigates women and music in eighteenth-century Lutheran Germany, focusing on neglected aspects of the life of Anna Magdalena Bach (née Wilcke), second wife of J. S. Bach. Following her from promising and well-paid young singer to often-bereaved mother and finally to impoverished widow, this project examines the contexts for her music making, both in public as a glamorous star, and in the domestic sphere where her contributions were crucial to the edification of children and to the larger musical economy of the Bach household. This study broadens our understanding of female performance in the period, and explains why women musicians were afforded far fewer performing possibilities by the middle of the eighteenth century than they had enjoyed 50 years earlier.